More support for the campaign for Wisbech Rail today as Railfuture have issued a detailed paper challenging the high costs for the Wisbech to Cambridge railway scheme, and supporting the concerns I have raised. As they say “we speak to many in the industry and all are puzzled as why a simple project has come to cost so much”.
Railfuture is an independent campaigning body for a better passenger and freight network, and note that there are positive noises from the industry. They make clear that the Office for the Rail Regulator has stated that “there is absolutely no embargo on new level crossings, though each has to have its safety case”. To avoid gold plating, they address the specification required saying “On a virtually straight railway as between the edge of Wisbech and the edge of March, the level crossings we describe are fit for 55 mph, a speed that would make the a timing over the 7/8 miles attractive”.
Railfuture also appear to agree both with the Secretary of State for Transport and myself that a third party contractor (firms like Skanska) could be commissioned directly to build the railway without the need for Network Rail to do so. It makes sense to look for other firms alongside the option of Network Rail which is already struggling to cover all the work it has agreed to do and is therefore resistant to taking on new work.
Railfuture further add that Greater Anglia plan to make the Norwich to Cambridge service a through one to Stansted Airport, and therefore this could free platform 5 all day long for a Wisbech service.
I will be meeting with Railfuture in Parliament next week to discuss their paper, building on my meeting on Friday with the Chief Executive of the Homes and Communities Agency.